There are unique hazards and safety risks facing dental clinics due to the nature of dentistry. Not only do you need to ensure that your patients are safely cared for, but that your employees are also safe as they work. This means creating a culture of safety in your practice and these tips will help you do just that.
Identify the Risks and Create Policies
Start by identifying potential risks. These hazards include falls, sharps injuries, exposure to bloodborne illnesses, back strain and exposure to radiation, just to name some of the most common risks. Once you have identified these risks, create safety procedures and policies to address them and put them into an employee safety protocol handbook.
Training and Reminding
Even though you have identified the risks and created a safety handbook, it is important that you train all your employees and include this training as part of your new employee onboarding. Make sure that you include all employees, from the back office to the front desk, as this will ensure that everyone is on the same page. Also, correct mistakes early so bad habits don’t develop.
Continue to remind your employees of these safety procedures and policies by discussing these policies regularly at staff meetings. Create an open dialogue with your employees to continually improve office safety and conduct an annual safety review and training exercise to reinforce and remind employees of those safety risks and protocols.
Lead by Example
Office culture is set at the top so lead by example. This will ensure that your safety procedures aren’t just policies written in a book but that they become an integral part of your business’ culture. Model the behavior you want your employees to follow and show a commitment to your safety programs.
Deeper Dive on Common Risks
Let’s look a little closer at some of the most common risks and what can be done to improve safety at your practice.
- Bloodborne Pathogens: Ensure that your employees are given and wear the proper protective equipment, including gloves, gowns and face and eye protection. Also make sure that you have the proper disposal protocols and use labels. Ensure that employees wash their hands before and after every patient to avoid contaminating themselves or other patients.
- Radiation: Be sure that rooms and equipment are properly labeled with caution signs. Also restrict areas to limit employee exposure and properly train all employees that use this equipment. Ensure that patients are provided the proper protection.
- Equipment: Train all staff on the proper use and cleaning of all instruments and equipment and that the equipment is only used for its intended purpose. Regularly inspect all equipment and tag with inspection date. If something is not functioning properly, immediately tag it as out of order.
- Patient Safety: Besides protecting patients during X-rays, also protect their eyes during procedures from any splatters, sprays and the glare from dental lights with Rollens. These easy to use lenses come in Platinum Gray and Diamond Clear and contour to fit each individual face. The Diamond Clear glasses allow you to see your patients’ eyes, which are a good indicator of your patients’ comfort while the Platinum Gray blocks glaring UV lights.